16 October 2018

Woah, We're Half Way There!



Target 2067: Canada’s Second Century
Leonard Bertin
Toronto: Macmillan, 1968
323 pages

Did Target 2067 miss its target? I ask because it has the very appearance of a centennial book, but was published the following year. Author Leonard Bertin was a journalist – ex-Daily Telegraph, ex-Toronto Star – and would've been familiar with deadlines. At time of publication, he was working as a science editor at the University of Toronto. Bertin already had a few books under his belt, most notably
his first, the cleverly-titled, Atom Harvest (1956), described in an advert placed in the March 1958 number of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists as "the bitter story of how British-American atomic collaboration broke down after the war, leaving Britain with no bombs of its own, no plant or knowhow to build them. Mr. Bertin... tells about Britain's remarkably quick, economical and successful program to acquire without American help both nuclear weapons and effective power reactors."

And so, a happy story.

Take that, you ungrateful Yanks!

Bertin met his Italian wife, Eleonora, as Rome correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, but he was a science writer at heart. What I find most intriguing about his bibliography is a stark shift from optimism to concern. Atom Harvest was followed by The Boys' Book of Modern Scientific Wonders and Inventions (1957), The Boys' Book of Engineering Wonders of the World (1961), Target 2067 (1968), Noise (1972), Energy and Survival (1973), Nuclear Winter (1986), The Impact of Cruise Technology (1987).

Published seven years after The Boys' Book of Engineering Wonders of the World and four years before Noise, Target 2067 is something of a transition. Challenges are recognized, but faith in science and society remain strong. The book's simple intent is to detail the numerous advancements Canadians will enjoy as they approach their country's bicentennial.

It begins with a short work of science fiction, set in 2067, in which a man named John Green visits Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital. John's preparing for a new propecting job on Mars, and will be needing his anti-plasmodic shots and a full-scale microchemical check and encephalogram. He writes his name, address and social security number on a card "of the sort fed into computers, with holes punched in it here and there," and places it in a slot. One minute later, his records have been obtained from Ottawa. A woman enters "wearing the white paper coat and skirt of an interne [sic]," looks over yards of "teleparent copy," and performs the necessary tasks.

John leaves Sunnybrook an hour later. Forgoing the "moving pavement," he walks to the Bayview subway and settles in for the fifteen-mile journey to his home. John lives on one of the twenty or so small islands formed by landfill on Lake Ontario. His apartment in Centropolis isn't different much than any other. Located on the 201st storey, roughly half-way up his building, it offers views of Niagara Falls and Port Hope. It's a comfortable place, shared with wife Johanna Green and their unidentified child. The couple's greatest challenge is in keeping fit. Holovision and three-dimensional theatre tempt, as do the hot meals that can be called up by dialling the self-service centre below. How often have the Greens dropped their used plastic plates and cutlery into the garbage chute? Too often, I expect.

Bertin's second Canadian century is one of rapid growth and advancement. By 2067, he expects one hundred million people will live in Ontario alone. In this respect, Canada is no different than any other nation. The global population may reach 15 billion.

How to feed the billions? Fish farms, of course.


What of resources? Nuclear blasting will reveal the true extent of our mineral wealth. And let's not forget that we've only just begun mining the Athabaska tar sands.


Fresh water? Don't give it a second thought.

Pollution? The topic doesn't even feature in the book's index.

Keep sending those plastic plates and cutlery down your 201st-storey garbage chute, Green family.

Remember John’s visit to Sunnybrook? It seems a month prior, during a visit to Cape Kennedy, he'd suffered a bout of appendicitis. Asked by the paper-coated interne how he feels, John answers, "I feel grand... A couple of week’s vacation on the Great Barrier Reef did me a lot of good, but half the population of Ontario seemed to have the same idea. They were all down there scuba fishing."

Yesterday – by which I mean, October 15, 2018 – Bloomburg reported that nearly half the corals of the Great Barrier Reef are now dead.

Ah, but wasn't tomorrow wonderful!

Object: A brightly designed hardcover with jacket by Alan Daniel. I purchased my copy online this past summer from a Niagara Falls, New York, bookseller. Price: C$7.00. The postage and handling was reasonable, but the listing neglected to mention that it is a discard from North York Public Library.


Access: Target 2067 is held by at least thirty-six Canadian libraries, including the Library of Parliament, Library and Archives Canada, the National Science Library, the CMHC Housing Knowledge Centre library, and the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique library.

Used copies aren't plentiful, but online offerings are cheap, ranging from US$5.47 (Very Good in Good dust jacket) to US$22.00 ("GOOD X-LIB").

Related posts:

13 October 2018

Archibald Lampman's 'October Sunset' in October



OCTOBER SUNSET
          One moment the slim cloudflakes seem to lean
          With their sad sunward faces aureoled,
          And longing lips set downward brightening
          To take the last sweet hand kiss of the king,
          Gone down beyond the closing west acold;
          Paying no reverence to the slender queen,
          That like a curved olive leaf of gold
          Hangs low in heaven, rounded toward the sun,
          Or the small stars that one by one unfold
          Down the gray border of the night begun.
Related post:

12 October 2018

Ce Soir à Montréal: The Louis Dudek Plaque



Tonight will see the Montreal Writers' Chapel 2018 plaque dedication.
This year's honouree is poet, critic and academic Louis Dudek.

Speakers include:
Bernhard Beutler
Simon Dardick
Gregory Dudek
and Michael Gnarowski.

Stephen Morrissey and Marc Plourde will read.

A wine and cheese reception will follow.
This is a free event. All are welcome!

I'll be there. Please come and say hello.

Friday, October 12 @ 6:00pm

St Jax
1439 St. Catherine Street West (Bishop Street Entrance)

Related posts:

09 October 2018

The Dustiest Bookcase: K is for Kelley


Short pieces on books I've always meant to review (but haven't).
They're in storage as we build our new home.
Patience, please.

I Found Cleopatra
Thomas P. Kelley
West Linn, OR: Fax Collector's Editions, [1977]
111 pages

Thomas P. Kelley was a regular in the early years of the Dusty Bookcase. From 2009 to 2012, his writing was the focus of a steady parade of posts, which included reviews of No Tears for Goldie (1949), Bad Men of Canada (1950), and two markedly different versions of The Fabulous Kelley (1968), a loving memoir about his snake oil-selling father.*

All this came to an end my review of 'The Soul Eater', a lost world story Kelley published in the May 1942 number of Uncanny Tales. Of all the things I've written on Kelley, it's my favourite. So what made me stop?

Something to do with the remaining Kelley titles in my collection, I suppose.


I wasn't much interested in taking time to separate truth from fiction in his books about the DonnellysSimon Gunanoot, and the Mad Trapper of Rat River. Things would've been different if I'd found a copy of this:


After The Black Donnellys and Vengeance of the Black Donnellys, I Found Cleopatra is Kelley's most reprinted work. First published in the Weird Tales (November 1938) – and again in Uncanny Tales (July 1941) – the novel has appeared three times in book form, most recently  in 1980 by Borgo Press. I found and bought my Fax Collector's Editions copy last summer.

It's now in a storage locker just outside the town of Merrickville, Ontario.

Wish it wasn't.


* Here I ignore my growing suspicion that Kelley was the author of No Place in Heaven, a 1949 News Stand Library pulp published under the name "Laura Warren."

Note: Not to be confused with I Found Cléopâtre, the 1988 account of my discovery a Montreal drag bar with the longest and cheapest Happy Hour in the whole damn city.


Related posts:

03 October 2018

No Picnic



Murder's No Picnic
E.L. Cushing
London: Wright & Brown, 1956
188 pages

My latest Dusty Bookcase review, of E.L. Cushing's Murder's No Picnic, is now available gratis at the Canadian Notes & Queries website:
A House Full of Orphans
I wish I could say I liked the novel. I didn't. Given its cover, I was at the very least expecting a fun read. It wasn't. Regular readers may remember my enjoyment of Murder Without Regret. Now that was fun!


I don't know that I'll read anything more by Cushing. Her books aren't at all common and tend to be quite expensive. My warped copy of Murder's No Picnic was purchased earlier this year £16.00 from an English bookseller located somewhere in Devon. With shipping added, the thing set me back well over fifty dollars. The true first edition was published in 1953 by New York's Arcadia House. There has never been a Canadian edition. I don't expect we'll ever see one.

Not a Ricochet Books candidate.


01 October 2018

Archibald Lampman's 'In October' in October


The Poems of Archibald Lampman (Toronto: Musson, 1900)
IN OCTOBER
     Along the waste, a great way off, the pines
          Like tall slim priests of storm, stand up and bar
     The low long strip of dolorous red that lines
          The under west, where wet winds moan afar.
     The cornfields all are brown, and brown the meadows
          With the blown leaves' wind-heaped traceries,
     And the brown thistle stems that cast no shadows,
          And bear no bloom for bees. 
     As slowly earthward leaf by red leaf slips,
          The sad trees rustle in chill misery,
     A soft strange inner sound of pain-crazed lips,
          That move and murmur incoherently;
     As if all leaves, that yet have breath, were sighing,
          With pale hushed throats, for death is at the door,
     So many low soft masses for the dying
          Sweet leaves that live no more. 
     Here I will sit upon this naked stone,
          Draw my coat closer with my numbed hands,
     And hear the ferns sigh, and the wet woods moan,
          And send my heart out to the ashen lands;
     And I will ask myself what golden madness,
          What balmed breaths of dreamland spicery,
     What visions of soft laughter and light sadness
          Were sweet last month to me. 
     The dry dead leaves flit by with thin weird tunes,
          Like failing murmurs of some conquered creed,
     Graven in mystic markings with strange runes,
          That none but stars and biting winds may read;
     Here I will wait a little; I am weary,
          Not torn with pajn of any lurid hue,
     But only still and very gray and dreary,
          Sweet sombre lands, like you.

Related post:

24 September 2018

The Return of John Buell's Four Days



John Buell is Montreal's most unjustly neglected novelist, and this is his most unjustly neglected novel. Four Days is so strong a work that it alone caused Edmund Wilson to declare Buell one of Canada's foremost writers. Beginning with the 1962 Farrar, Straus & Culahy, the novel enjoyed several editions and translations, then slipped out of print in the early 'nineties.

No more.


This week sees its return, following The Pyx, John Buell's debut novel, as the thirteenth Ricochet Book published by Véhicule Press. Montreal writer Trevor Ferguson, also known by his "John Farrow" pen name, provides a new foreword. As Ricochet series editor, I'm proud to have worked with publishers Simon Dardick and Nancy Marelli in returning Four Days to print.

I first wrote about Four Days in this 2011 Dusty Bookcase review:
Four Days in Darkest Quebec
It is one of Canada's greatest novels.

Edmund Wilson would agree.

John Buell
1927 - 2013
Related posts:

17 September 2018

The Dustiest Bookcase: J is for Jacob


Short pieces on books I've always meant to review (but haven't).
They're in storage as we build our new home.
Patience, please.

One Third of a Bill: Five Short Canadian Plays
Fred Jacob
Toronto: Macmillan, 1925
140 pages

The tenth anniversary of this blog is less than four months away, so how is it that I haven't reviewed a single play? I was, after all, a child star. My involvement in the theatre stretches back to the second grade,when I played Big Billy Goat in a touring production (we once performed at a neighbouring elementary school) of Three Billy Goat's Gruff. In all modesty, I think I earned the role because I had the deepest voice of all the boys.

It hasn't changed since.

Had I not spotted its subtitle, Five Canadian Short Plays, I wouldn't have bought One Third of a Bill. Fred Jacob's name meant nothing to me. Though he once served as dramatic and literary editor of the Mail & Empire, he doesn't feature in The Canadian Encylopedia or W.H. New's Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada. The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature demonstrates its superiority in devoting a portion of a sentence to the man under the entry "Novels in English: 1920 to 1940":
There were also Victor Lauriston's Inglorious Milton (1934), a mock epic of small-town literati, and the first two novels by Fred Jacob (1882-1926) [sic] of a planned (but never completed) four-part satire of Canadian life in the first quarter of the twentieth-century: Day Before Yesterday (1925) about the decline of upper-class domination in a small Ontario town, and Peevee (1928), about the posturing and affectations of a rising middle class.
I've since learned that the small town in Day Before Yesterday was modelled on Elora, Ontario, in which Jacob was born and raised. A roman à clef, it didn't go down well with the locals, as reflected in this online listing from Thunder Bay's Letters Bookshop:
Macmillan of Canada, Toronto, 1925. Hardcover. Condition: Very good plus. 1st Edition. 320pp; gilt black filled cloth, lacking jacket; 197 x 131 x 41 mm. The author's controversial second book, the introductory novel in a projected series of four studies of 19th-century rural Ontario communities; preceded the same year, by a collection of plays. A native of Elora, Fred Jacob (1882-1928), lacrosse afficianado, was employed as a Toronto Mail & Empire sports writer at the time of publication. Perceiving the story to be uncomplimentary to their forefathers, residents back home erupted in a torrent of condemnation for book & author alike, which inevitably led to less than favourable reviews. The author had nearly completed the somewhat redeeming second volume, PeeVee (1928), at the time of his untimely demise. Ink inscription on ffe, dated Jan 31st, 1926. Light wear to boards; with a touch of waterstain to a portion of the book-block at upper tip. Exceedingly scarce.
Exceeding scarce is right!

The copy described above is one of only two listed for sale online. Unsurprisingly, the Wellington County Library, which serves Elora, doesn't have a copy (or any other Jacob title). Seems a candidate for acquisition. Here's the link to the Letters Bookshop listing:
Day Before Yesterday
Incidentally, Letters gets right what The Oxford Companion gets wrong: the year of Jacob's death. Here's how the sad event was reported in the Mail & Empire:

The Mail & Empire
7 June 1928